When I hear or see the numbers 911 I don’t think of the American emergency services telephone number. And I don’t think of the terrorist attacks on American in 2001. No, instead I think of the Porsche 911. For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved them. They’re one of these things that you either look at and this “wow, I’d love one of them!” or alternatively “ooh, what an ugly car”. Curiously most males will tend to give the former response and most females the latter.
The thing with a 911 is this. It’s a supercar, it can do insane speeds, accelerate like a bat out of hell and corner like it’s on rails but you can use it as an every day car and go shopping at the supermarket quite happily. Try that in a Ferrari and you’ll be a nervous wreck by then end with a sore leg from pressing it’s heavy clutch in. I’ve always wanted a 911 and I swear that one day I’ll get one (first of all I need to build up some kind of no-claims bonus on my car insurance first). I’d have one of the older air-cooled models and as they’re water-cooled nowadays so the prices should keep dropping until I can afford one.
But I’m not alone. It turns out that the sales manager here feels exactly the same way I do about 911’s so a couple of months ago he set about actually buying one. After much searching he found an immaculate 10 year old 911 Carrera 4, albeit left-hand drive. He got it just before he went on holiday and said he’d take me out for a spin when he got back. I must point out here that despite my love for 911’s, I’d never actually been in one and would relish the experience.
Two weeks later and my chance came with a trip into town to buy some lunch. My first impressions sitting in it were that it’s not as luxurious as my current car but everything was functional and looked pretty solid – however what I was interested in was the engine. As soon as he fired that up I started grinning. The low, guttural sound it made was very appealing and as he revved it to pull away it sounded even better. The ride was pretty firm but not painfully so and once it was warmed up I got to experience what I’d always dreamed about.
Now, I’ve been in a TVR before so I know all about loud engines. But the sound an air-cooled 911 makes above 5000 rpm is absolutely awesome. It’s like you’d imagine a Ferrari to sound like when you’re a kid looking at them in a magazine. I couldn’t begin to describe what it sounds like any more than I could explain to you why I love my girlfriend. But I can describe the acceleration (although I’ll have to use a lot of superlatives). You know when a plane launches itself down the runway prior to take-off? It pins you to the seat. But nothing like a 911, which feels like somebody has taken a runaway express train and rammed it into your back. I know that fighter pilots get tunnel vision when they take off – and I know that because that’s exactly what happens when you’re in the passenger seat of a 911 overtaking a long row of traffic.
Of course we soon came up on a corner. We’re travelling at some cosmic speed at this point and it’s not that I think we’re not going to make the corner, I know we’re not going to make it. We’re going to just plough on in a straight line right off the road and into a field. My brain and body are ready for the impact but strangely we go around the corner as if it were a straight line. No fuss. Not even near to spinning. Amazing.
To say that I still want one of these cars would be to understate things somewhat. It’s breathtaking – literally. When I’d been for a spin in a TVR I swore I’d never buy one – it felt as though the grim reaper was riding in the boot ready to tap me on the shoulder and take me away, but I reckon I could handle a 911. I wouldn’t drive it flat out because I’d be dead inside of 5 minutes, but the thing with a car like that is you don’t have to drive it at 150mph. The sound of the engine alone is magnificent, even at 60mph.
Ah. Some day… Still, you couldn’t fit my mountain bike in the boot – there’s an engine in the way. Nothing’s perfect.
A 911 has got to be on everyones “must drive” list.
Along with the Elise 🙂
>My first impressions sitting in it were that it’s not as luxurious as my current car but everything was functional and looked pretty solid
WTF? You don’t buy sports cars for comfort or build quality – it just makes the car heavier.
I know, that’s why I said that I was more interested in the engine… And I’ve been in an Elise – I hope you have a good chiropractor!
I think I’m twisting my back getting in and out. Seem to have a little backache 🙁
The Porsche 911 is a triumph of evolution over design. Which means that it’s great. And there have been more different 911 models over the past forty years than there are atoms in the universe. Fact. And WTF were they thinking when they created the Cayenne?!
bravo! john. the opening was said exactly a month ago on national public radio here. leave 911 for the porsche.
i love that car and have a good friend who repairs them. we have fun from time to time oooing and ahhhing these beautiful cars.
i will never want or be able to own a newer one, but there is always the hope of an older model. especially if we had our friend to help care for it.
and you are so right. for all practical purposes (and what can be more practical than hearing that great engine and watching people watch you), you don’t need to do 150-60 or 70 will do.
My ex-boyfriend’s dad owned a 1969 Targa (I’m thinking it was the ’69 – it was that fantastic green coupe) and I took it for a couple of laps around Elkhart Lake track a few years ago. That was certainly an experience – I was told later that I was driving like a granny but my teeth had been shattered down to splinters so I knew I wasn’t going *that* slow. (Okay, so I did kind of pussy-foot it at around ninety or so but I was told the thing maxed out at 110 and I foolishly thought I’d end up blowing the engine if I pushed it…I’m not that stupid anymore.)
It’s one of the slower 911s, hitting 0-60 in around ten seconds, but that was plenty enough for me. I would never own one myself but I would schmooze up to anyone who did and beg them to let me race their car. It’s worth whatever acts of debauchery are required on your part, and then some.
the difference between a Porsche and a ferrari is that the porsche is made to do a job well, like a Bosch drill or something. the fact it looks good is secondary.
Italian cars on the other hand are the reverse, they are fast, look the bollocks but are pretty unreliable on the whole. Ask and fiat, alfa or ferrari driver.
Oh, Elise’s were built for leprachauns but are good once you’re in/if you get in!